still speculated upon the meaning of his impulses that after-
noon in his office. He knew that modesty had had nothing
to do with the matter, or fear concerning his own capacity.
What those men could do, he could do. Even though elusive,
it had been something more fundamental to his nature than
modesty, he admitted even after he was at ease in his new
condition, for it had moved him powerfully that afternoon.
He was bound in candour to admit that fact, remembering
how, after he had accepted and the men were gone, he had
felt unmanned and ashamed, as though an unsuspected weak-
ness had betrayed him. It was as though steel had snapped
at the point where the crystal had secretly formed, or the
bough at the point of hidden rot. He had felt the impulse
to rush down into the "street to catch them and tell them he
wouldn't do it, tell them he had changed his mind.
He did not follow the men, but almost immediately after
he had resisted his impulse to do so, he hurried to the livery
stable back of the hotel and told the negro boy to saddle his
mare. While waiting, he paced up and down the dusty alley
between the stable and the hotel. The boy took forever.
When, at last, the boy led the mare out, Mr. Munn, without
a word, swung to the saddle and rode off. By the time he
reached the edge of town and could see before him the
expanse of white, dusty road stretching westward, his im-
patience was consuming him. It was a hot afternoon, the sun
still high enough to have force, and no air in motion. On
each side of the white road lay fields of tobacco, still uncut,
the rows of plants running perfectly back from the road until
they lost themselves in the undifferentiated mass of deep,
rich green which was the body of the field. The great
tropical-looping leaves of the plants near the road, however,
were powdered with the white dust that had been raised by
wheels and hoofs to settle there. He rode too fast, and knew
he was riding too fast, and cursed himself for a fool even as
he leaned forward a little, relishing the supple and powerful
thrust of the mare's hoofs upon the dusty road. He wanted
to get home. He wanted to see May.